Dr Caroline Starkey


I am a sociologist of religion, with a particular interest in the various ways in which religion is experienced in contemporary Britain.  I obtained my PhD from the University of Leeds in 2015.   Prior to this, I recieved my undergraduate degree in History from the University of York (1999), and took two MA degrees, first in Social Work (Hull, 2003, DipSw) and later at Leeds (2008).  From 2003-2010, I was a social worker in various statutory and voluntary settings.  

I joined the University as a Teaching and Research Fellow in 2015, and was appointed as Associate Professor in 2018. 

Alongside my research, I have been part of the AHRC Research Careers and Training Advisory Group (2013-2015) and am also the treasurer of the UK Association of Buddhist Studies (UKABS).  I am a member of the British Sociological Association Sociology of Religion Sub-Group (SOCREL). 


  • Industrial Tutor

Research interests

My current research has two principal strands. The first, an interest in the establishment, development and adaptation of religions of Asian origin within the British Isles, particularly Buddhism and Jainism.  I have researched, and published on, gender and ordination issues in contemporary British Buddhism (funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Spalding Trust) and am particularly interested in the narratives of 'Westerners' who convert to Buddhism and what this tells us about religious belonging in contemporary Britain.  I conducted the first national survey of Buddhist and Jain buildings in England (as part of a larger research project, funded by Historic England with Professor Emma Tomalin which also now includes work with the Warsi Foundation on Modern Places of Worship) and I continue to enjoy piecing together the rich and varied sociologies of minority faith communities through their built landscapes. 

In the second strand of my research, I investigate the relationship between religion, health and social welfare in Britain. I have been engaged on several research projects, including an AHRC Cultural Engagement Fellowship (2016), which look at the tensions and opportunities for statutory and voluntary, community and faith sector bodies in working more closely together to deliver social welfare objectives, particularly in times of austerity. I remain especially interested in the role of religion in social work practice. 

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Professional memberships

  • UK Association for Buddhist Studies
  • British Sociological Association Sociology of Religion Study Group (SocRel)

Student education

I teach on a range of modules within the School that cover the social scientific study of religion, including research methods, across undergraduate and post-graduate levels. 

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Religion and Public Life
  • Gender
  • Cities and Space
  • Heritage
  • PRIA
  • Religion
  • Theology and Religious Studies
  • Women, Gender and Society

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>